Statement by Dr. W. Todd Groce President and CEO of the Georgia Historical Society regarding the Purported Image of the CSS Georgia

Savannah, Ga., April 13, 2015“In 1986 the Georgia Historical Society (GHS) received an image from Mr. John Potter of a photograph taken of another photograph alleged to be the Confederate ironclad CSS Georgia that he discovered at a yard sale but was unable to purchase.  Among the experts GHS consulted to authenticate the image the conclusions were mixed, with some believing it to be an image of the CSS Georgia and others who believed it was not.  With no clear evidence or consensus the image was cataloged as ‘purported to be the CSS Georgia’ and not as an authentic photograph of the CSS Georgia.

At no time since the image was given to the Society has the Georgia Historical Society claimed it to be an authentic reproduction of a period image.  In fact, without provenance and with so many questions about the image we chose to include it as part of an online educational resource for teachers to teach students about how to evaluate the authenticity of primary sources in research.  A link to that educational resource is attached to this statement.

On any given day GHS receives donations of artifacts, documents and photographs from individuals, families and corporations who want to make sure that their papers are preserved for future generations of scholars, students, and researchers.  We accept these gifts in good faith as the institution’s archivists did nearly thirty years ago with the purported image of the CSS Georgia.  We now know, by Mr. Potter’s own words, that the image is not authentic.  To be clear, GHS has never presented the image as an authenticated photograph of the CSS Georgia and have maintained such in our records and online resources since the day that it arrived.  It is still regrettable that Mr. Potter chose to perpetrate this hoax but with clear evidence of the fraud we can now clearly label the photograph as inauthentic.”  

Dr. W. Todd Groce is President and CEO of the Georgia Historical Society.  If you would like to interview Dr. Groce please contact Patricia Meagher, Director of Communications at 912-651-2125, ext. 153 or

The educational resource citing the image can be found here: